John Graham to appeal Justice minister’s ruling
John Graham appeared before the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver, on Friday.
It was a procedural hearing and lasted only a few minutes. Its purpose was simply to extend the conditions of Graham’s bail and to set another appearance date.
This next date, set for October 30, is expected to be another routine appearance, as Graham’s legal team continues to prepare its appeal of his extradition order.
We had hoped the court would review and redefine John’s bail conditions to allow him greater freedom as he continues to develop his defence.
But to our great dissatisfaction, the court continues to impose house arrest, which denies Graham the right to seek employment. The contributions that some of you have provided are, therefore, greatly appreciated and important. We thank you.
In other developments, Graham’s legal team had made a formal appeal to the Justice minister Vic Toews, urging him to intervene based on a number of legal arguments.
On June 13, Toews decided he would not intervene based on these arguments alone.
While the decision is disappointing, the information provided in his decision sheds some light on Toews’ thoughts about this matter facing Graham, and also points to key aspects of importance which we intend to build on.
Graham’s legal team plans to appeal Toews’ decision.
While the law permits separate proceedings for both appeals, Graham’s lawyers may present arguments for both appeals during the same appearance, which is expected sometime next year.
In Toews’ explanation, he makes reference to the letters of support, stating “hundreds of people have written in support of Mr. Graham. It is commendable that Mr. Graham is so highly regarded and enjoys the support of so many.”
Your letters are making an impression, and we do intend to have hundreds more delivered in the coming months to affirm Graham’s broad support among Canadians and others in the international community who are watching this case closely.
While the United States’ case against Graham attempts to throw up a smokescreen and distract us from powerful indicators the Federal Bureau of Investigation was involved in the murder of Anna Mae Aquash, it remains Graham’s sincerest hope that his struggle will bring more attention to the truth of what really happened to his friend, and to so many others working for a common cause.
The worldwide forceful confiscation of native lands for mineral and other resources has a long and bloody history — as is reflected in the matter facing Graham and its connection to the uranium-rich native lands of South Dakota — a struggle which continues to this day.
Around the world, aboriginal people are striving to retain their heritage and their connection to the land; be it on the shores of eastern Taiwan, where the Amis tribe is working to reclaim its age-old ceremonial site under the threat of tourism development, or on the shores of Alaska, where the Gwich’in people are striving to protect the sacred caribou calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas development.
The case against Graham reflects all such struggles and the atrocities that are often committed in the confiscation of sacred lands.
In recent years, the US government has shown itself to be largely unconcerned with the sovereignty of foreign countries and has demonstrated grave human rights abuses.
It is therefore alarming that the Canadian government implemented an Extradition Act in 1999, which allows extradition of Canadian citizens to the US with merely a summary of evidence, while disallowing any examination of that evidence to ensure it is sufficient, accurate, and not fabricated.
In Graham’s case, it has already been shown that key witnesses and evidence are not available (or never were), bringing a cloud of suspicion over the US government’s entire case and judicial process — it seems the US government would prefer the Canadian justice system were blind, deaf and mute to its true intentions.
But the people of Canada are not!
And so we ask those of you who believe in truth and justice to speak out now!
To aid this effort, our website provides an updated postcard with Toews addressed as the recipient, and a leaflet to help educate people about the matter facing Graham.
Your letters to Toews and your MP opposing Graham’s extradition and requesting full disclosure of the United States’ evidence is crucial.
Only Toews has the ability to demand disclosure.
Your MPs have the ability to further encourage Toews to do so, and to demand that no extradition shall be granted without such disclosure and a thorough inspection of the evidence.
If the case against Graham were watertight, then what does the US government have to fear?
It would also be helpful to remind Toews in your letters that Leonard Peltier’s extradition was based on fraudulent affidavits which are known to have been given under coercion and duress administered by the FBI.
And, while the Justice minister appears to consider the Peltier conviction as evidence a fair trial can be achieved in the US, we wish to remind him that human rights groups around the world view the Peltier conviction as one of the gravest miscarriages of justice ever witnessed in a US courtroom, and one that was fraught with racism against aboriginal people.
It is a feather in the hat of those who championed the FBI’s COINTELPRO campaign against Native Americans.
And so, too, would be the wrongful conviction of Graham.
We urge you to encourage other individuals, organizations, First Nation governments and unions to send their own letters.
Additionally, letters to the editors for publication in your regional newspapers are a powerful method of informing the public about the alarming lack of evidence required for extradition, and to remind Ottawa of its responsibility to protect its citizens from a zealous neighbouring nation with a track record of racism and abuse, especially with respect to the matter facing Graham.
The case against Graham has become a symbol for those who believe in human rights and sovereignty, and it will surely set a precedent — for better or worse — as to how much power the US government has to pluck any Canadian from this sovereign soil.
This case also remains a shining light of hope that the truth about Aquash’s death shall one day be known.
Contrary to the likely intentions of those who have fabricated historic events in hopes of concealing the truth, we remain convinced that the case against Graham will further entrench the FBI and its conspirators in their culpability for the death of Aquash and scores of others.
We remain deeply grateful for those who stand with us in solidarity for aboriginal justice everywhere.
Our commitment to the truth remains unshaken, so that Aquash’s death and the important cause for which she lived and died, will not have been in vain.
Matthew Lien, John Graham Defence Committee president and media relations officer